Green Party pushing to ensure earthquake legislation considers environment

The Green Party is working to improve earthquake legislation currently before Parliament, the Party said today.

The Hurunui/Kaikōura Earthquakes Emergency Relief Bill will pass today with changes to ensure local people can have more of a say, while still enabling Kaikōura to get back on its feet again.

“During recent cross-party talks on the legislation, we were able to put some of our concerns to the Government. We are pleased that Government took some of these on board and we’d like to acknowledge Minister Brownlee for his inclusive and open-minded approach,” said Green Party earthquake recovery spokesperson Eugenie Sage.

“In an emergency such as this, we need to ensure that Kaikōura and the surrounding districts are up and running again as soon as possible. Many decisions need to be made quickly. We also need to ensure we have thoughtful processes involving local voices for major decisions on how to deal with the huge landslips on State Highway 1 and the main trunk railway line and major roadworks on the Lewis Pass Highway, which affect Nelson Lakes National Park and conservation land.

“We heard at select committee yesterday how concerned paua fishers are about the impact not only of the earthquake itself, but also if the enormous amounts of rubble and spoil are carelessly dumped onto the foreshore and into the sea.

“Kaikōura has led the country in making the natural environment a core part of its brand and tourism industry. We want to make absolutely sure that this legacy isn’t placed at risk – local businesses have enough to deal with already.

Parliament will next look at the Hurunui/Kaikōura Earthquake Recovery Bill, which will allow Ministers to introduce Orders in Council to amend or override more than 35 different laws, including the RMA and conservation legislation, without going back to Parliament.

“Our experience in Christchurch post-quakes is that giving central government broad powers and shutting out the community does not always result in decisions that are good for the community or the environment.

“The Green Party wants thoughtful and efficient processes to ensure the most appropriate environmentally and economically-friendly options are used to help Kaikōura and the northern South Island recover from these quakes,” said Ms Sage.